Monday, November 26, 2012

Duché de Coeur: Cross Country Ice Skating

Winter at the Coeurs means sitting in front of a warm fire with friends after skating through the Coeur countryside!
This is a fabulous way to see the stunning landscape.  Starting at Lieu d'Idylle, you will travel through gorges, over lakes, around windmills, under and over bridges, through tunnels, and along canals, all while fighting the snow in your face.  Race with your friends!
The 10 region course is clearly marked with both logs and arrows.  At normal "Run" speed (CTRL-R), the course takes about 15 minutes to complete when there is no one else in the region.  If you just want to explore, feel free to jump the logs and visit other waterways.
Text & Illustration: Bedrich Panacek

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Walking to Mordor Challenge

“It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Bilbo Baggins

Inspired by A Hobbit's Guide to Walking this Walking to Mordor Challenge is based on The Atlas of Middle-earth where Frodo & Sam's route has been recorded in minute detail. 

Used in conjunction with The Fitness Nerd's Walking to Mordor & Back spreadsheet and a pedometer (I'm using my Fitbit) you have everything you need to begin your quest to destroy the ring.  You can start at any time and please proceed at your own pace; fast or slow it's all good!

Learn more at the Walking to Mordor Journal.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Versailles: Transported

Hall of Mirrors' Ceiling

Just as my glow from Chanel's "Versailles" Collection (see Chanel in Versailles: Seriously Frivolous ) was fading, along came some equally delightful Versailles related news!

The SNCF, France's national state-owned railway company, has just unveiled the first of their commuter trains decorated with iconic scenes from the Château de Versailles including; the Hall of Mirrors, Louis XVI's Library, Marie Antoinette's Chamber in the Petit Trianon and the Belvedere from her English Garden.

Hall of Mirrors

Graffiti-resistant, laminated panels were used to transfer the images which are slated for a number of trains on the The RER C line traveling between Paris and Versailles.  This means that tourists get a preview of Versailles before they even arrive while locals can enjoy these works of art on their daily commutes.

Louis XVI's Library

Louis XVI's Library

I was tickled to see Louis XVI's Library which was my inspiration for The Queen's Library SL.  You will notice that the books are the same.

Cotelle Gallery Ceiling

These cherubs have also make a frequent appearance on my SL ceilings including that of The Queen's House

The Belvedere

Installing The Belvedere

And then there are details from the Belvedere, that beautiful octagonal structure celebrating the seasons that was created by Richard Mique for Marie Anotinette's English Garden in the Petit Trianon.  And last, but certainly not least ...

Marie Antoinette's Chamber - Petit Trianon

From the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Chamber.  Yes, for me it's just about as close to heaven as a commuter train can possibly get.  I imagine myself riding these trains over & over again so that I can thoroughly enjoy all six of their decorated cars.  Fortunately, these fabulous interiors will remain in place for the next two years so I might just get that chance!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fitbit Challenge: Virtual Badges & Real-Life Rewards

Wow! You've earned the Skydiver badge!
You've climbed your way to skydiving elevation. That's 1,000 floors! Only 1,000 more floors until your next badge!

As a Duchesse in SecondLife, the Dragonborn in Skyrim and an Elf-Huntress in Tweenk (to name but a few but you get the picture), I'm certainly no novice when it comes to collecting virtual rewards.  I've served tea, slain dragons and raided dungeons; working my way up various hierarchies and having a marvelous time in the process.  I've also reaped a lot of real-life benefits including the friends that I've made over the years but up until now the major drawback of my virtual adventures was the ever-increasing sedentariness.  Every year it seemed a bit harder to get up out of my chair and get moving through the real world.
Fortunately, just as I was about to receive my lifetime membership to the dreaded Couch Potato Club, my SL sister mentioned an "electronic wireless personal trainer" that she was trying out called Fitbit.  I took a quick look, though "yeah, I could use a  good pedometer" and ordered one.  Wow!  Had I ever underestimated the power behind this little gadget.
From the moment that I snapped it on I was hooked because behind the Fitbit Ultra is a whole website & community dedicated to helping you reach your fitness goals by making small changes in your daily routine.  It's amazing how the little things can add up!
I realized that just by devoting a bit of time & attention to my fitness stats I could put my days of sloth behind me.  The virtual badges are fun and actually encourage me to do more than I would have on an ordinary basis; 50 floors in one day for example just to get the badge (silly as that sounds though I've probably put in a lot more time reaching the Adept Level in Skyrim).
I hadn't expected to use the Calorie Counting function but found I can't resist it especially since tracking Calories Burned versus Calories Consumed contributes to a leaner and therefore happier me.

So as you can probably tell by now, I've now added another little "virtual addiction" to my repertoire, gazing over my new fitness stats just as I do with my old Skyrim numbers.  Thank goodness this new pastime is paying off in real-life health & fitness! 
If you would like to join me in this exciting Quest for Fitness just give me a shout.  I'm always looking to make new Fitbit Friends :)

Fitbit Ultra

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Petit Trianon: Views & Plans

As many of you know, I'm slowly re-creating this beautiful gem of a palace in SecondLife® and I thought it was about time that I dedicated a blog page to summarize my adventures during this journey.  You can navigate to it from the tabs at the top of this Home Page or go directly to Petit Trianon.  I will repeat the page's introduction here.  Following the introduction, you will find more information including Petit Trianon specific links and a SL Project Timeline.

♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥ ♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥
From its inception, Trianon was distinguished by its dedication to a lady, usually a young and beautiful one: by the magnificence of its flowerbeds and sophistication of its gardens: and by the official order that walking through the gate was by invitation only.*
Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's maîtresse-en-titre, was indeed the beautiful lady behind what is now considered among the most perfect buildings in France, the Petit Trianon.  Pompadour, encouraging the king's passion for botanical gardens, had already been instrumental in the development of this little piece of Trianon land including the addition of the French Pavilion in 1750.

This marvelous little chateau was designed at Pompadour's request by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and constructed from 1762 to 1768.  Marie Antoinette took possession in 1774, working her own magic on the palace, gardens and surrounding estate.

Hailed as a masterpiece, at first glance the Petit Trianon appears deceptively simple, a modest cube with no grand flourishes.  Further inspection reveals a wealth of wonderful details and an excellent use of proportions that have kept me charmed & fascinated for many years now. 

My adventures re-creating the Petit Trianon in the virtual world of SecondLife® are absolute pleasures.  I know that I will never be able to do justice to the original but this is truly a case where the journey and not the destination is the point of the exercise.  I invite you to follow along with me!

*Quoted from Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Duché de Coeur: Opera Meets Couture Gala

TatianaDokuchic Varriale & Baharat Atlas
Arriving at the Opera Meets Couture Gala
photo by Ana

Wasn't that a party!

Hosted by the Duché de Coeur's Academie Royale de Musique and Maniera LLC, the First Annual Opera Meets Couture Fashion Show and Gala was a smashing success.  I don't think I've ever seen so many well turned out avatars enjoying themselves in one place before.

Jennie Devin custom designed the setting and it was "jaw dropping".  It was the first time any of those new-fangled automobiles were ever seen on my (usually) 18th century region of Provence Coeur ;)

Tamra Hayden started the evening with her stunning performance.  Truly one of the best things about SL is being able to attend a live-stream music event like this.

A selection of gowns from some of Second Life®‘s top designers were modelled and then sold with partial proceeds being donated to help support the Academie’s education and outreach efforts.

The gala was a blast with DJ Shintoryu Allen spinning the tunes and people staying to dance the night away.

My "red carpet worthy" dress by BlakOpal Designs.

For more great pics of the event taken by Ana see 1st Annual Opera Meets Couture Gala April 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

enChanted Easter Notes

Easter has given me an excuse to enjoy some "illumination" which I'm delighted to share with you. 

These pages are from a 17th century Antiphonary created by the "ateliers de l'hôtel des Invalides", Paris. 

Think of soothing Gregorian chants while you look at them; relax & immerse yourself in the marvelous details.

♪♪ Happy Easter ~ Happy Spring ♪♪

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Petit Trianon: French Garden Parterre SL

Petit Trianon: French Garden Parterre SL (Bumblebee view)

An early spring has given me the gift of renewed energy & inspiration which I am using to tackle my favourite Second Life (SL) endeavour, the Petit Trianon. This project has languished for far too long but improvements to SL building tools were just what was needed to help get it off of the ground again.  So what did I do?  I pulled the whole place apart and started again!!

Though this has resulted in more than a few holes in the walls & floors (if you come for a visit make sure to watch your step) I'm very excited about the progress I have been making.  I'm currently working on the exterior facades and if you know anything about the Petit Trianon it's that each side of the building has its own unique character.

The side facing the French Garden is probably the most beautiful and the most complex with its impressive terrace and a parterre that provides an introduction to Le Jardin Français home to the French Pavilion.  It's very interesting to note that beneath  the terrace is a network of passageways which were used to keep the servants out of sight and facilitate their movement from the outdoors to the kitchen and preparation areas of the Ground Floor.  For some reason those passageways were always my particular bête noire when building so I'm very relieved to have them almost finished.

Sadly, over the years the parterre has disappeared from the Petit Trianon in RL but I was fortunate enough to have some old plans and photos showing the layout.  As you can see, I've taken a few liberties with my SL version including adding a small water feature and what I think is some much needed shade.

My first planting of the garden was definitely a treat that I have been looking forward to for a very long time.  It turned out to be very "spring" inspired which seemed rather fitting with both the season and my current mood.

Please feel free to drop by and enjoy the French Garden Parterre.  Just remember that if you venture into the chateau you're going to have to watch out for those gaps in the floorboards!!

Petit Trianon: Parterre Instant Spring Garden

This delightful spring garden is perfect for avid and novice gardeners alike.

Based on the original design for the  parterre of the Petit Trianon , the formal lines of the four planting beds and small, clipped hedge borders are accentuated by brightly coloured masses of flowers that sway gentle in the breeze.  The full arrangement is a symmetrical pattern with the two beds of the right side mirroring the two beds of the left.

It sets up with the touch of a rez box for instant visual impact.  All parts are mod/copy so that you can rearrange and make changes to your heart's content.  Every piece has been optimized to be prim conscious.